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8 days in Denver area (w/o a Car) - 4 days in TBD, 4 days in Breck? (early Mar)

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I'm trying to pick a resort/area for the front half of an 8 day ski trip into Denver, with the latter half already fixed at Breckenridge. 

 

It will the first time for me skiing in Colorado, (husband has been to Aspen), and I've read a few threads that have suggested Araphoe Basin, Copper Mt and Vail as good options, such as this one:  http://www.epicski.com/t/117008/denver-jan-25-27-2013-where-to-ski

 

Kinda torn between trying out Vail since we have never been, or trying what people say is more of a locals place, with these other factors in mind as well: 

 

- We will not have our own car - ideally we'd take a shuttle from DEN to TBD, not need a car the entire time at TBD, then another shuttle from TBD to Breckenridge. (We don't want to separately rent a car, as a 4WD car is exorbitant and we will be meeting up with friends arriving later into Breckenridge who will rent a car).  

 

- We won't get bored in the 4 days we will be there (I'm intermediate-advanced, my husband is advanced. Our favorite ski experiences have probably been Big Sky & Whistler/Blackcomb). 

 

- This is a bit of a vague ask, but we only get to ski 2x per season and I'd really like to use this time to try to get to the next level - so perhaps a place where the adult ski school is good? I've taken a number of group/private lessons that were pretty underwhelming  

 

- Would be nice to have an XC area nearby (thinking this could be a good option in case we are too tired to downhill everyday)

 

- Nightlife not super important as it will just be the two of us and thinking we can get our fill later on in Breck 

 

- Not sure when we will be out to Colorado next, so there is also the tourist element (eg, is there somewhere we just *have* to try)?

 

- No idea about the snow variability/reliability for different mountains for early March, but just throwing it out there if it is a factor

 

Thanks in advance! 

post #2 of 19

I would rethink the rental car.  You don't need 4wd,  your shuttles will probably cost as much as a rental and will really limit your options.

 

Since your already doing Breck, I'd get away from the front range.

 

Steamboat

Aspen

Crested Butte

Monarch

Sunlight

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks Shredhead. Good to know about the 4WD - that really opens up our options.

post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by norfy View Post

- This is a bit of a vague ask, but we only get to ski 2x per season and I'd really like to use this time to try to get to the next level - so perhaps a place where the adult ski school is good? I've taken a number of group/private lessons that were pretty underwhelming  

 

Instead of find a place to ski. See which of the resorts have multi-day clinics (where you get to work with the same instructor for days rather than a couple hours) which fits your schedule.  

post #5 of 19

Rental car does give flexibility and I like some of Shredhead's resort suggestions, but if you decide to stick with the airport shuttle to Breck, then after your four days you could pack up and take the free Summit County Stage (shuttle bus) about 10-15 miles and relocate to Keystone or Copper Mtn.  Unfortunately, no free bus system to Vail or Beaver Creek, but believe there is one for a fee.  Keystone (and nearby A-Basin) would mesh with lift ticket/season pass requirements for Breck because of same parent company (VR).  Copper would require separate ticket plan, but that might work out reasonably well if you're only going to ski 2 or 3 days at each place.

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Good suggestion. If anyone knows of any good multi-day clinics, please let me know. I usually take lessons offered by the resort, so not sure if there is somewhere else (3rd party, independent cos) that I should be looking into. 

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by norfy View Post

Good suggestion. If anyone knows of any good multi-day clinics, please let me know. I usually take lessons offered by the resort, so not sure if there is somewhere else (3rd party, independent cos) that I should be looking into. 

Whoops, just found the skiing instruction section.

post #8 of 19

Without renting a car somewhat limits your options, as you would most likely want to stay in another resort town near or adjacent to a ski area.

  • This would rule out trying out some of the smaller places like Monarch or Silverton.
  • The cost of shuttles when looking at going between places like Steamboat, Aspen, or Crested Butte and back to Breckenridge is probably going to cost just as much, if not more than a rental car (2WD or 4WD) for the week.
  • If you want to try Copper Mt, Keystone, or A-Basin you might as well just stay in Breck and use the Summit Stage shuttle to go between the resorts
  • A-Basin needs a lot more snow to open much of the better terrain currently

 

I'd look into the prices of shuttles versus just renting a car. I'd consider doing another trip to either Steamboat, Aspen/Snowmass, or Crested Butte if you really want to experience a change of pace from the I-70 resorts.

 

Do you have any passes?  If you already have a pass with Vail Resorts that could factor in to your decisions.

post #9 of 19

You could try hotwire for a cheap 4wd.  I did that out in Utah, and it was cheaper than going through one of the rental car companies direct for a mid-size car. 

 

If you want to stick to your plan of no car, I would suggest Winter Park.  With the MAry Jane area, Parsenn Bowl, and then the rest of the area, I doubt you'll get bored.  And if you want to get better at moguls (which is the nemesis of many skiers) I can;t think of a better place.  Plenty of lodging and eating options in town, and the buses run regularly and drop you off closer than if you had a car to park. There is a x/c area not too far away (Devils ranch??) and there may be a bus to Granby Ranch (formerly Sol Vista) which is a small ski area nearby which also offers x/c and snowshoeing.

 

You might even be able to take a train from Denver to the resort. How cool is that? 

 

Not sure about a shuttle to Breck

post #10 of 19
The ski train to Winter Park no longer exists. The Summit Stage runs free half hourly buses between Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain. CME (Colorado Mountain Express, owned by Vail Resorts) will pick you up in Breckenridge/Frisco/ Dillon/Silverthorne and transport you to Vail or Beaver Creek for fairly reasonable amounts. CME, of course, also shuttles between Denver International and the mountain resort areas.
post #11 of 19
Last year I rented from Fox Car Rental at DIA. The car was dirt cheap and the service was pretty lousy, but it was actually a nice car (Hyundai) and got me from A to B.

Alternatively, you could do a one way car rental. I'm not sure how much that would cost you. On top of that, picking up a car off-airport can save a ton of money in taxes and fees.
post #12 of 19

One-way car rentals are going to be much more expensive, as they will charge you ~$0.30 per mile and sometimes a drop-off fee in addition to the regular rates.  Plus only places to drop-off are going to be mountain airports like EGE, HDN, or ASE.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post

The ski train to Winter Park no longer exists. The Summit Stage runs free half hourly buses between Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain. CME (Colorado Mountain Express, owned by Vail Resorts) will pick you up in Breckenridge/Frisco/ Dillon/Silverthorne and transport you to Vail or Beaver Creek for fairly reasonable amounts. CME, of course, also shuttles between Denver International and the mountain resort areas.

Yes, I see you are correct on that.  I had heard that it was discontinued but I looked at a map of the bus routes at WP and saw the train stations noted, so I assumed incorrectly that they reinstated the service.

 

Sounds like the area you mention is a good choice since there are car-less options for getting to other ski areas.

post #14 of 19

To the original poster-  If you are thinking 4 days and 4 days and want to be at just two resorts for each of those times, then Vail and Breckenridge are definitely the two to pick.  From Vail, you can take the free shuttle to Beaver Creek if you want to ski that a day or two, but skiing a Vail for 4 days will not bore you.  It's very big and you'll love it.  If it were me, in your shoes, I'd probably do the following:

 

3 days Vail, 1 day Beaver Creek,

then- 2 days Breckenridge, 1 day Copper, 1 day Keystone.  

Shuttles for all.

 

Personally, A-basin is my least favorite big mountain (aka anything over 250 acres in my book).  If you are intermediate to advanced intermediate you are not going to love A-basin.  It has an odd set up, very high elevation, very few cruiser runs.  The only thing that would make me go back there would be to try that new bowl they opened up a couple years ago.  But with all the other great places to ski, I'm thinking I won't be back.

 

On the other hand, I've been to Copper and Keystone more than any other resort yet I'd definitely go back.  Love those two for some reason.  Keystone has the fun trees and long groomers, and Copper has some great challenging long mogul runs and a couple fun bowls to go along with a really nice lay out overall.

 

One worth a mention but not close to the others is Winter Park.  Fantastic ski mountain and really great snow there.  I'd love to ski there again sometime.  Really fun spot.

post #15 of 19

I don't think I'd want to try to negotiate the free summit stage with luggage.  

 

 

A friend just returned from skiing Crested Butte, Monarch and Keystone yesterday.  The difference in conditions was significant and it wasn't in the front ranges favor.

post #16 of 19

Since you've never been, I'll also recommend Vail for your first 4 days. The mountain is huge and there's noplace else quite like the town of Vail. For both the skiing and the "village" experience it's worth seeing at least once in your life. You'll notice quite a contrast between Vail and the Breckenridge vibe; there also may be a difference in the snow coverage (for better or worse) between Breck and Vail. IMHO, Keystone and Copper are too close to Breck to promise any significant difference in snow conditions.

 

I spent Christmas week bouncing around the Vail resorts in a plain-jane rented car - one of our trips over Vail pass was a little white-knuckley, but Col DOT does a pretty good job keeping the roads cleared. The availability of timely weather info on smartphones these days makes planning your travel time and avoiding bad weather (an hour or 2 makes a big difference) easy; I think the only need for 4WD would be if you had strict schedule to keep. I rented car at corporate rate and found that the cost for weekly rental was pretty much a wash compared to round-trip shuttle from DIA, hopefully you can use the net to find resonable rental rates - it's a slow snow season so far and the rental companies have a LOT of cars on their lots.

 

One poster recommended Steamboat. I love the 'boat and this may be the only time I've ever recommended against it, but downtown Steamboat and Breck village are kinda similar (old-timey, truly historical). Vail gives you some variety.

post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks to all for the feedback ... lots of different ideas here, which I'm going to try to sum up. 

 

Btw we don't have any passes. 

 

1) Front range only trip. 

This seems like the most low cost, but least variety option (also not very good snow as of now?) If we went this route, I think we're leaning towards front 4 days spent in Vail + back 4 days spent in Breck/Copper as suggested by Michigander. Personally I like to spend at least 2 days at a given resort b/c I find it takes me a day or two to get my bearings. 

 

On the transport front, the reason I was focused on shuttles was because the standard rental agencies were ~ $1,000+ for a 4WD rental car for the week. I forgot about Hotwire and they are indeed a bit cheaper - from $500-$600 for a regular car & $700 for a 4WD. That said, I still think shuttling around the front range might be cheaper using Colorado Mountain Transport and similar services. 

 

2) Back range (?) + Front range. 

Basing this off of SHREDHEAD's suggested resort - Crested Butte, Monarch, etc. Transport wise, we'd have to rent a car. I'm not at all familiar with where any of these are and their merits,  so I Googled drive time and on average it seems like ~3 1/2 hours or so from DIA. This would work on our way in as we'll need to acclimate to the altitude and on our way to Breck after a day of ski to meet up with our friends who don't arrive until the evening anyway. Only question I have is it worth the extra drive time? 

 

3) Fly to somewhere like Silverton + Front range. 

I think the only way this would make sense given the drive time (6+ hours from DIA) in 4 days of skiing would be to fly into Durango and back to Denver. The ticket is actually quite cheap - < $100. This doesn't seem like a bad option and Silverton looks really cool. 

 

Part of me wants to really try 3) now that I've investigated Silverton, but I'm also worried that it seems kinda hardcore and I won't be able to keep up. My comfort zone is single blacks - double blacks I can and will ski but not with grace, and I also don't have much powder experience. 

 

UPDATE: Ok, got my fill of Silverton threads and it looks too hardcore for me. Guess I can cross off option 3. 

 

In other words... I'm still undecided. Trying to balance cost, time and of course a good skiing experience. 


Edited by norfy - 1/23/13 at 6:31pm
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by norfy View Post

Good suggestion. If anyone knows of any good multi-day clinics, please let me know. I usually take lessons offered by the resort, so not sure if there is somewhere else (3rd party, independent cos) that I should be looking into. 

At Vail, we offer 3 days of group lessons for the price of 2 ($300 for 3 days) and try to keep students with the same instructor for consecutive days.  I thought we also had some multi-day women`s only clinics, but they may have already happened or are sold out for this season as I am having trouble locating them on the website.

 

There are also some small group specialty products like max 3

 

We had some great early season training and our customer satisfaction scores at Golden Peak have been really high this year- even better than in the past.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by norfy View Post

3) Fly to somewhere like Silverton + Front range. 

I think the only way this would make sense given the drive time (6+ hours from DIA) in 4 days of skiing would be to fly into Durango and back to Denver. The ticket is actually quite cheap - < $100. This doesn't seem like a bad option and Silverton looks really cool. 

 

Part of me wants to really try 3) now that I've investigated Silverton, but I'm also worried that it seems kinda hardcore and I won't be able to keep up. My comfort zone is single blacks - double blacks I can and will ski but not with grace, and I also don't have much powder experience. 

 

UPDATE: Ok, got my fill of Silverton threads and it looks too hardcore for me. Guess I can cross off option 3. 

 

In other words... I'm still undecided. Trying to balance cost, time and of course a good skiing experience. 

Just noticed your update- heard good things about Silverton, but yes, it is more of an experts mountain.

post #19 of 19

Regarding passes, it looks like you can no longer get a Vail Resorts season pass which might have been cost effective for 8 ski days.  You can still buy slightly discounted multiday tickets online from Breck and same for elsewhere.  Liftopia may also be a viable source.

If you stick with the shuttle idea and go to Copper or Keystone on front end of trip I still think the free summit stage would work for a transfer to Breck if you don't have ton of luggage, it is often fairly empty midday during midweek, but you may have to change buses once, mileage-wise they're only about 15-20 miles apart.  If you decide to rent a car then Vail/Beaver Creek is very doable and I would reserve two vehicles:  econocar and SUV, when date gets close cancel the one you don't need.  If there is no big snow predicted I70 is fine without an SUV and you'll save enough for numerous lift tickets.  Although a fine, soulful place, doesn't sound like Arapahoe Basin is your cup of tea. 

Random comment, Beaver Creek is somewhat affordable if you stay three miles away in Avon at a place like the Comfort Inn (try priceline or hotwire) and use free bus to the slopes or town gondola.  BC itself is very posh and not as potentially overwhelming as Vail.  But Vail Village/Base area is pretty amazing for apres ski, shopping, dining, etc. if you have the budget.

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